Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Senior United Nations officials have called for those responsible for human rights violations and crimes associated with human trafficking and forced migration to be held accountable, noting that some of the crimes committed in this respect may amount to atrocity crimes.
“During their journey to Europe and other locations, many migrants and refugees have witnessed or been victims of crimes and human rights violations, including murder and enforced disappearance, slavery and extortion, sexual violence, torture and other forms of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment,” said Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on Prevention of Genocide.
Mr. Dieng was speaking at an event held on the fringes of the General Assembly, today, to consider how States, intergovernmental organizations and faith-based organizations can together be agents of change in addressing the growing problem of trafficking and forced migration. Also at the event was Zainab Hawa Bangura, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict, who spoke about the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence in the context of displacement –particularly forced displacement – and trafficking.
“This is a fact. Sexual violence has become both a push for displacement and a consequence of displacement,” she began. “Women and children remain extremely vulnerable to sexual violence – including rape, survival sex, and trafficking – not only when they flee, but in places where they are seeking refuge.”
Speaking about forced displacement and related crimes, Mr. Dieng noted that people fleeing their countries are in many cases escaping armed conflict, serious human rights violations or persecution that in some cases may constitute atrocity crimes, “if they violate international humanitarian law or are carried out in a widespread or systematic manner,” adding, “I will personally support efforts to pursue accountability for serious crimes linked to human trafficking and forced migration.”
“I also believe,” he continued “that there is considerable overlap between the risk factors for atrocity crimes and the drivers of forced migration, including situations of armed conflict; widespread human rights violations and targeted discrimination based on identity; poverty, structural inequality and lack of socio-economic opportunities; and humanitarian crises.
The Special Adviser stressed that while many actors help migrants and refugees during their passage to Europe and other countries, faith-based organisations deserved special mention, as “faith is what moves many to offer support and aid along the migration route – from origin to host countries.”
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)